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Posts Tagged ‘State Fair of Texas’

Big Tex

The New “Big Tex” Was Unveiled at the State Fair of Texas on September 26. Photo via State Fair of Texas

The State of Fair of Texas opens on Friday with a new “Big Tex” who looks different from the old Big Tex ready to say “Howdy, folks!” with his new voice. The now 55-foot-tall figure stands in huge size 70 Lucchese boots featuring symbols of Texas such as the state flower and bird and Capitol building, as well as the State and U.S. flags. The welcome home ceremony will be streamed live at 2pm.

Last October, the original 60-year-old Big Tex was destroyed by flames from an electrical fire on the last weekend of the fair. The icon was rebuilt with the help of many donors, from Tall Texans ($1,000) and Big Tex – Reboot ($500) to Tex’s Friends ($25).

The new Big Tex’s big eyes, darker complexion and the configuration of his arms and hands are different than the old cowboy. On the Big Tex Grief Support Group page on Facebook, which was formed after the fire, reactions to the new Big Tex ranged from “Nothing like the old Big Tex!!!!!!” and “He looks great! – Just like a real Texan / Tejano! Love him!” to “He kind of looks like Howdy Doody!” and “Fail!” Here’s a slide show from KERA of North Texas showing how Big Tex has looked through the years.

Real Photo Post Card of The Worlds Largest Santa Clause Kerens, Texas 1949 Taylor Studio . From the Collection of Ed Williams

Real Photo Post Card of The Worlds Largest Santa Claus. Kerens, Texas 1949. Taylor Studio. Ed Williams Collection

Big Tex was originally a roadside “World’s Largest Santa Claus” built by the Chamber of Commerce in Kerens, Texas, according to The Great State Fair of Texas by Nancy Wiley. The 49-foot figure was constructed from iron-pipe drill casing and papier mache. The State Fair’s president bought the Santa in 1951 and hired Dallas artist Jack Bridges to transform him into a giant cowboy.

We’ve been fond of Big Tex since childhood. He was a familiar figure on vintage postcards in Mom’s shoebox of postcards from the road. ATZ met the big guy in 2006, the first time we visited the State Fair of Texas, which is worth a trip from anywhere. In 2012, the Dallas fair was once again no. 1 on Carnival Warehouse’s list of North America’s Top 50 Fairs, with an attendance of 2.56 million. The 2013 State Fair of Texas runs September 27 – October 20.

Big Tex Vintage Postcard

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A new portable version of Zamperla’s Air Race designed for traveling carnivals is one of the thrill rides on the independent midway at the Florida State Fair, which runs through today in Tampa. Owned by Joyce and Jeff Brady of Playworld Amusements, the ride debuted at October’s State Fair of Texas, where it was called the “Air Raid.” The on-ride POV vid shown above was shot at the 2012 IAAPA Attractions Expo in Orlando, where attendees were invited to try out the ride for free. In the vid below of the ride at the Dallas fair, skip to 1:49, which is when the planes start moving. Carnival lights are always brighter than amusement park lights!

Designed by Mega Disk’O creator Gianbattista Zambelli, the aerobatic thrill ride sends riders round and round and upside down at up to 4g forces. Since the Air Race prototype made its world debut at Zamperla’s Luna Park in Coney Island in 2010, it’s been a worldwide success with sales to parks in Portugal, China, North Korea, Chile, Australia and Utah. In 2013, Tivoli Gardens in Copenhagen will debut the Air Race with eagle-shaped seats shown in the rendering below. Built on an elaborate platform, the ride’s theming has an Art Nouveau look.

Tivoli Air Race

Rendering of Eagle-themed Air Race Set to Debut at Tivoli Gardens in 2013. Via Tivoli Gardens Facebook

Coney Island’s Air Race seats 24 riders and is similar in design to the ones at Aquashow Parc in Portugal, Lagoon Park in Utah, and Gorky Park in the Ukraine. A new deluxe model seats up to 32 riders in six four-seater planes. In an article we wrote about the new Luna Park for IAAPA Funworld in 2010, Zamperla president Valerio Ferrari said, “Our intention is to have the latest rides that we develop in our park.” The fact that the world’s largest manufacturer of amusement rides is trying out prototypes at Luna Park is an exciting development that calls to mind the heyday of Coney Island when the first models of any new park or carnival rides would make their debut here.

Zamperla also benefits because the New York City amusement park functions as a showroom for Zamperla’s New Jersey-based North American operation. In December, a Kung Fu Panda-themed version of the Air Race called Pandamonium opened at Australia’s Dreamworld, which has a partnership with DreamWorks Animation. “This swinging rickshaw ride is an adventure with a serious split personality,” according to the park’s website. “It’s two rides in one — one for kids and one for thrill seekers.” Riders get to choose the intensity of the ride –‘not-so crazy’ or ‘seriously crazy’–as it spins around a mighty dragon.

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January 18, 2013: Coney Island 2013: “Water Mania” Spin Ride to Debut at Luna Park

July 8, 2012: Video of the Day: Coney Island Lights by Jim McDonnell

October 8, 2010: Traveler: Most Beautiful Video of the State Fair of Texas

September 16, 2010: Luna Park Coney Island: Zamperla Air Race On-Ride POV Video

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Today’s Dallas Observer called Robert Hunt’s vid “The Most Beautiful Video of the State Fair of Texas You Will See All Day.” It hit the spot since we’ve been longing to see the famed fair’s independent midway once again. It’s been a couple of years since we visited Big Tex! Go if you happen to be in the neighborhood of Dallas, but it’s worth the trip from anywhere. The State Fair of Texas runs through October 17.

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August 9, 2012: Traveler: Skywheel at the Wisconsin State Fair 2012

October 6, 2010: Traveler: Where You Can Play Fascination Year Round

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October 10, 2009: Traveler: Carnival Rides as Public Art at Toronto’s Nuit Blanche

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